2Section 1 What Are Psychological Disorders? Pages
3Section 1 ObjectiveExplain the basis for classifying psychological disorders.
4Psychological Disorders Psychological disorders are behavior patterns or mental processes that cause serious personal suffering or interfere with a person’s ability to cope with everyday life.Estimates suggest that almost one third of the adults in the United States have experienced some type of psychological disorder.
5Identifying Psychological Disorders Deciding what behaviors, thoughts, or feelings are “normal” or “abnormal” can be difficult.Normal is average for the majority of people. Using this definition of normality, deviation from the majority becomes the primary criteria for abnormality.People with psychological disorders usually do not differ much from “normal” people. The primary difference is the simple exaggeration of certain behaviors or mental processes.
6Example Laughing is a healthy outlet for most people. Laughing all the time and especially in inappropriate situations, might be considered abnormal.
7Symptoms of Psychological Disorders The word suggest is important here because diagnosing an individual with a psychological disorder is often difficult and diagnoses are not always simple.Typicality-normality of a behavior or mental process of often determined by the degree to which it is average. The fact that a behavior is not typical of most people does not mean it is abnormal. Scientific and artistic geniuses, such as Pablo Picasso, not typical of people in general-but not abnormal.
8MaladaptivityBehavior that impairs an individual’s ability to function adequately in everyday life.Example would be behavior that causes misery and distress rather than happiness and fulfillment.Example: Alcohol abuse is a behavior. Alcohol abuse often has strong negative effects on the drinker’s health, work, and family life.
9Behavior which is hazardous to oneself or to others may be considered maladaptive. This could include threatening or attempting suicide or attacking other people.Note: most people who commit violent crimes do not have psychological disorders. Most criminals are fully aware of what they are doing. They know that their behavior is illegal and that they can be held responsible for it.The majority of people with psychological disorders are not violent or dangerous.
10Emotional DiscomfortAnxiety and depression cause most people great emotional discomfort.Example: people who are depressed often suffer feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, and extreme sadness. Many lose interest in virtually everything they once enjoyed and believe that life is no longer worth living. These feelings are so intense the person may consider suicide.
11Socially Unacceptable Behavior Behavior that is socially unacceptable may depend on the particular society or culture in which it occurs. Normal behavior in one culture may be considered abnormal in another. Cultural context has to be taken into account when deciding on a psychological disorder.Culture-bound syndromes-clusters of symptoms that define or describe an illness.Example: in the Middle Eastern cultures believe that certain inappropriate behaviors, banging one’s head, due to possession of the body by a spirit. In the U.S. the belief would likely be considered a sign of a serious psychological disorder. Distinguishing between abnormal and normal, or unacceptable and acceptable, behavior is influenced by cultural expectations. Most people would find it distressing or suspicious if a stranger stood “too close” to them. However, the appropriate distance differs from culture to culture.Crying uncontrollably would be a normal reaction to the death of a loved one; it would be an abnormal reaction to losing a pen.
12HistoryWhat a culture considers to be unacceptable or abnormal behavior many change over time. During much of the 1800s, for example, some people thought that runaway slaves suffered from a mental illness called drapetomania (after the Greek words for “runaway” and “madness”). Today the effort to escape the bonds of slavery would be seen as heroic.
13ExamplesProvide examples of behaviors that once were considered socially unacceptable but are more widely acceptable today.Why does a society’s views of acceptable and unacceptable behavior may change over time.
14Classifying Psychological Disorders Majority of psychologists believe its important to have a classification of psychological disorders so that individuals can be diagnosed and treated correctly.The most used classification system for psychological disorders is the DSM, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association.
15The differences between classifying disorders according to their presumed causes and classifying them according to their observable signs and symptoms. Analogy: Descriptive approach to the common cold would be to list the symptoms-runny nose, sneezing. An analysis of the cause of the common cold would include references to cold-causing viruses and how they affect the body.